Music Monday 11.20.06

JnewI have a few CD's I can't wait to talk about, but I'm going to wait to talk about all of them but one. 

Ys I recently picked up Joanna Newsom's (myspace) new one, Ys.  It is one of the strangest and most wonderful CD's I've heard. 

If you think all real music is 3-5 minutes a song and should be radio-ready, this isn't for you.  Please no hate mail if you buy the CD and don't like it.  Ys' five tracks run about 55 minutes or so.  This music is not about belting out pop hits, but about an experience, about poetry and meaning and depth of beauty.  It may not grab you at first listen (though it did me), and many of you will quickly dismiss it after hearing a clip or two.  But I'm telling you, the grandeur of this album is something to behold.

The music seems to put you in a world of knights and horses and castles and kingdoms, and it makes you wonder if there are dragons in the nearby caves.  It's magical if there ever was magical, with Newsom on the harp and her unique voice breathing out drama.  Newsom is a poet, and the CD's booklet is the thickest I've ever seen at just under 30 pages of lyric/poetry.  It's edges are gold like a Bible or a leather-bound edition of Tom Sawyer, fitting for such literary music.

From "Emily"...

Pa pointed out to me, for the hundredth time tonight,
the way the ladle leads to a dirt-red bullet of light.

Squint skyward and listen--
loving him, we move within his borders:
just asterisms in the stars' set order.
    We could stand for a century,
with our heads cocked,
in the broad daylight, at this thing:

landlocked in bodies that don't keep--
dumbstruck with the sweetness of being,
till we don't be.
Told: take this.
Eat this.
    Told: the meteorite is the source of the light,
And the meteor's just what we see;
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid of the fire that propelled it to thee.
    And the meteorite's just what causes the light,
And the meteor's how it's perceived;
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void that lies quiet in offering to thee.

More on Ys: Metacritic, Pitchfork, Dusted, Observer Music Monthly.

Under the Radar: "The full orchestra doesn’t smack of overproduced grandiosity, which is a nice surprise. Less surprising, of course, is the album's incredible lyrical density."

Drowned in Sound:

It’s only very occasionally that I’ve come across an album that sounds so out of step with the times in which it’s created that it sounds startling, even shocking, like a smouldering asteroid that crashes through the ceiling of your house.

Often it’s something so odd, so next level that it seems like it can only have come from the future. But Ys, the second full-length album by prodigious folk musician Joanna Newsom, sounds like it has come from some dimly remembered past. Like old wives’ tales, these autobiographical myths are built from grains of truth and wisdom, a vivid, living, textured account of a memory glimpsed or forgotten, like a dream upon waking or a fable from a faraway place written a long time ago."

Here's a side note that's worthy of an entire post.  Please listen to the Espers' song "Voices."  I have their most recent CD, Espers II, which is tremendous.  "Voices" is from Espers, which is on my "must buy" list.